The video – beautifully shot with an expertly crafted story – brings audiences in and keeps them there. The circumstances were very challenging: filming in one of Haiti’s most dangerous ghettos, a United Nations off-limits, red zone. To do this, a man from the community had to bring us in and out in his car each day, usually under the cover of early-morning darkness. Unrecognized vehicles are not allowed passage and we did get caught hunkered down behind a cement wall in a 10-minute gang shootout one day. The camera operator believed in the project, traveling to Haiti with our team to film for expenses only. We directed and produced the video. Finding the girl long distance also was challenging. We had one day to gain her family’s confidence, arriving to film before sunrise the next morning.
This video embodies the important role structural engineering can make in the world to bring safety to the hundreds of thousands of children attending schools that are in danger of collapsing in earthquakes. By capturing the life of one girl in one school, we connected audiences to the need to build better and save lives. ENR magazine awarded the Cite Soleil school seismic repair project its “Global Best Project” award for repair and restoration, and the video tells the story. No one would help this school and it sat unrepaired for four years. But people coming together – the community, donors, engineers, the private sector – stepped up and made a difference.